It wasn’t easy for Melvin Loza to reconcile what he learned in the Bible Institute in Corinto, Nicaragua, with what he had learned in church as a boy. At the Institute, he heard things he had never heard before.
What types of things?
“Things such as… we cannot manipulate God to give us what we want by giving money to a church or any other place,” Melvin says. “He is sovereign and He is in control of everything, even though it does not look like it to us.” He quickly lists at least six other concepts and acknowledges that the list could be even longer.
“The Lord used the Bible Institute to put a rock in my shoe,” Melvin says, referring to the discomfort he felt — and couldn’t ignore — after he first attended an Institute in 2002. “What I had learned all along was being challenged. I had to continue to digest the things I heard after the week was over.”
The Bible Institute was meeting twice a year in his hometown of Corinto, offering pastors and lay leaders a chance to receive solid biblical and theological training. [Read more about the Bible Institutes in Nicaragua in an article about the Rivas Bible Institute.]
Melvin’s pastor advised him (and others in the church) to stop going to the Institute.
“He wanted to tell us what to believe,” Melvin says. “Some people stopped going, but I was a rebel. I didn’t listen. I kept going.”
He’s thankful that he did.
As Melvin continued to go to the Institute and ask the hard questions of his faith, he eventually experienced what he describes as the most liberating moment of his life.
“I had always struggled with the idea that we could lose our salvation,” Melvin says. “Learning about eternal security changed my life. I had always thought grace was just something we received at the point of salvation. I didn’t know that grace was part of daily living. Now I live out of love and gratefulness for what God has done — not out of fear.”
But that wasn’t the only life-change Melvin experienced as a result of his time in the Bible Institute.
Opening doors with English
When Melvin first started attending, part of what piqued his interest in the Institute was the fact that a group of North Americans were teaching the lessons in English. Although the lessons were then translated to Spanish, Melvin wanted to understand the teaching in both languages.
Melvin also recognized that knowing English could lead to better work and ministry opportunities.
“Melvin was a teenager in the very early days of our Bible Institute ministry,” says Jim (then pastor of Hope Evangelical Free Church in Huntsville, AL, and now a ReachGlobal Latin America missionary). “I remember him as an especially eager learner. He was eager to practice his English — which was limited at the time. He very often took the initiative and sought out the ‘gringos’ in order to start conversations and improve.”
In between the semi-annual visits from the North American teams, Melvin dedicated himself to intensive English study. He and his family couldn’t afford formal English studies, so Melvin taught himself.
“There were days when I would study from morning to night,” Melvin says. Even today, he continues to study, keeping his English fresh. “I’m always studying. I just have to read, looking up words I don’t know and rereading until I completely understand it. I watch movies in English and listen to podcasts from churches in the U.S.”
He had his first opportunity to translate for a Bible Institute in April 2005 — three years after attending his first Institute as a student.
“It was the first Bible Institute in Juigalpa, Nicaragua,” Melvin remembers. “Jim had invited me to translate and I wanted to just translate for him. He had the easiest accent to understand. But then the night before the Institute began, I found out that I would be translating for everyone. I was really nervous. The first five to ten minutes were intimidating, but it went well after that.”
Now, six years later, Melvin speaks impeccable English and is an integral part of the Bible Institute translation team.
“Melvin is a truly outstanding translator. He takes his job seriously and understands the importance of communicating clearly and with passion,” Jim says. “He has become absolutely essential to our ongoing work.”
And his ministry opportunities have also expanded. Each year, he spends an average of 2-3 weeks per month translating for several other ministries in addition to the Bible Institutes (which are now offered in five Nicaraguan cities).
In the future, Melvin hopes to study Christian ministry and the Bible in the United States.
“I want to pursue higher education there and bring it down here (to Nicaragua) and teach others,” Melvin says, unsure of when that might happen. “But right now, I’m living on faith. I trust that God will align things to follow His will.”
* * * * *
- For Melvin’s ministry as a translator — that God would continue to use him to reach the Nicaraguan people with biblical truth.
- For Melvin’s dreams for his future and that he would continue to trust the Lord for His best plan for his life.